Right on the heels of Epiphany, appropriately, I’d like to ask: Has something familiar ever suddenly, or maybe over time, become totally new to you? Have you ever asked yourself what shifted that allowed that newness to flood into something so familiar? For me, it was receiving the love of God.
During my childhood years in Ogden, Utah my Dad made sure that our family took advantage of the diverse and magnificent natural beauty of the American west. A rambunctious pre-schooler, preoccupied with all things pink, I was largely unaware of what I was seeing. I know it was working its way into me though, because I kept (and keep) going back.
For a time, seeking huge natural spectacles was the best way I could think to get to God. My logic: God’s big, so, find other big things and maybe he’ll be there? Don’t get me wrong, I knew of Him then. I went to his house every Sunday morning. I read a lot of books about Him. I even read His book. But even while standing at the rim of the Grand Canyon and having a sense of majesty and wonder, I still felt removed from Him. Ironically, my knowledge about God was getting in the way of actually knowing Him.
It wasn’t until I started to explore the most ubiquitous and taken-for-granted facet of God’s nature, Love, that things started to come into focus. I asked “Does God really love me?” and I started to get answers, then, the harder part, I started to believe them. It didn’t all come at once, conveniently delivered to my doorstep from a purveyor of existential solutions. God is always loving us, but often we don’t know how to receive that love or don’t want to receive that love. It feels like a gift we don’t deserve, and in one sense we don’t, so it can burn to sit with it. It took a long time for me to even get my head around being eligible for God’s love. I still have trouble with it.
Even though He is still healing my vision, developing a better understanding and acceptance of God’s love for me was like having bad eyesight and putting on glasses for the first time. I saw and felt things I had never been able to access before, but that had always been right in front of me. A big step on that journey was the God Loves You…No, Really retreat at Corhaven. There, I had a reckoning with this truth: I stared it down and it stared right back into the core of me, shaking it awake. Now the Grand Canyon is just as grand as it ever was, but so is a busy ant, or a quaking leaf, or standing in a rainstorm! It’s the love of God that changed how I see everything. If you struggle with the idea that God loves you, or just want to spend time thinking about what that means for your life, I would encourage you to attend this retreat. It’s coming up again on February 4 and we would love to have you there. I pray that we would all be open to receive the Love of God in new and amazing ways this year, and all the years to follow.